How To Start An Online Business In 2021 {For Less Than $100}

You have to create a website to start an online business; you can create one for free, or with less than $100.

I want to start an online business, but I don’t know-how. Sounds familiar? If that’s what you’re thinking, let me be the first to say, it’s a great idea and I will tell you the exact steps to follow.

I know, because not so long ago, your exact thoughts were mine, so I can relate.

The first time I thought about starting an online business, I did some research, and here’s what I discovered:

  1. A website is needed.
  2. There are only 4 ways to make money online (business models).
  3. I’d have to decide which of those models I was going to use to generate an income online.
  4. I’d have to choose which industry or job field I wanted to go into and come up with online business ideas for it.
  5. Market and competition research had to be done.
  6. I’d have to figure out how I was going to stand out from the crowd in my industry.
  7. I would have to identify who my ideal customers would be.
  8. How I was going to develop strategies to promote my business had to be determined.
  9. I’d have to figure out if launching an online business was right for me.

If you’re thinking about starting an online business, those are the main things you’re gonna have to figure out. In short, you need to come up with a business plan.

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Before I get to the essential steps in starting your own online business, I’ll briefly explain a few things that you may or may not know, but need to know.

Consider this as a, starting an online business for dummies guide.

If you’re trying to learn how to start a small business online, be a work-from-home mom, or start up a company, this is the perfect guide for you.

What is an Online Business?

An online business is a business that is done primarily on the internet and has means of monetization. Like the word says, it’s a business.

You will also hear the term internet marketing; it is another phrase for online business.

Online business owners, internet marketers, and entrepreneurs are all used to refer to individuals who run an online business.

What An Online Business Is NOT?

Hard fact #1: An online business is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

So stop reading this guide if that’s what you’re looking for.

stop sign with a male sketch with black hand
Internet marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme

However, if you take the time to start and grow your business the right way, you won’t ever have to worry about a job, money, benefits, or security again for the rest of your life.

Do you know why? Because you made your customers your main priority and provided value to them.

Once you do that, you will have a group of loyal customers supporting your business even while you’re asleep.

The key to starting and growing a successful online business is to always provide VALUE to your CUSTOMERS.

Why You Should Start An Online Business

In case you’re asking, ‘why should I start an online business?’, ask ‘why not?’ instead, especially when there are so many advantages to starting an online business.

Here are a few reasons why you should launch an online business:

  1. It is inexpensive: under $100 for domain name & hosting for a year (the return you can get on that small investment is huge).
  2. You only need internet connection, a computer, or a device that can access the internet, and an online business ideas to get started.
  3. Unlimited global population reach.
  4. Freedom to work when you want and at your own pace.
  5. No experience or degree needed; just your time and willingness to learn.
  6. Unlimited income potential (your income is based on how much effort you put in).
  7. You get more free time to spend with family members and loved ones.
  8. You can run your online business 24 hours a day, that means even while you sleep you’re making money.

I’d say those are some pretty good reasons.

The best part is, anyone can start and grow successful online businesses regardless of their age, gender, background, or geographical location.

Ways To Make Money Online

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There are four ways to make money online, and these are:

  1. Selling services: You can make money by selling services that you can provide. Some examples are courses, coaching & consulting, house cleaning, proofreading & optimization etc. and the list goes on and on.
  2. Selling physical products: You can sell physical products such as clothes, shoes, groceries, and phones through ecommerce stores or by way of dropshipping.
  3. Selling information/digital products: Another way you can make money online is by selling products such as ebooks, images, videos, and audiobooks.
  4. Selling space on your website: You can use your website to generate income by selling ad spaces. What this means is that if your site is popular and has a lot of traffic going to it, advertisers will pay you to place ads to their business or services on your website.

I know some people will disagree with that, but that’s fine. The truth is whatever you do online to make money, will fall under one of those four categories.

You can make money without doing a service, or creating a course or product yourself. You can become an affiliate and sell other people’s products and services.

You can also hire people (affiliates and freelancers) to do the work for you and give them a fraction of the sale.

Hard fact #2: People are going to want to make money from you by selling you things, in fact, they will and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just make sure when you spend your money, you buy things that are going to help you succeed in your business. As you purchase things online, make a record of what compelled you to buy, so you can start learning how to sell.

Before you start your online business, I recommend that you develop a business plan. It’s not mandatory, so you can skip it if you wish, but having one will help keep you on track.

Business Plan

Your business plan will be the steps you outline and follow to achieve your goal of building an online business.

The steps you take to set up an online business are not in the exact order listed above. So, going forward I will detail the steps to build an online business in the correct order.

Without further delay, the exact steps to start an online business are:

  1. Pick an industry/job market/niche.
  2. Conduct market and competition research.
  3. Determine your unique selling point (USP).
  4. Choose a business model.
  5. Learn what a website is and how to create one, or get one created.
  6. Market/promote your online business.

For many people, following a business plan is the fastest way to start an online business.

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    Pick A Niche And A Business Idea

    In the world of online marketing, you will come across the word niche quite often, it refers to your specific area of focus within a job field/market.

    When choosing a niche there are basically two routes to take.

    1. Something that you know: You can choose a niche around something that you know, like your passion, experience, expertise, interest or love. Or,
    2. Something that you don’t know: You can choose something that you don’t know anything about, as long as there is a market for it and it fills a need that people have. 

    Once you have decided on a niche, you then have to come up with a business idea. The task now is to determine a good online business idea that you can start and scale.

    Use the following tips to help you:

    1. Assess yourself: Identify what skills, talents, experience, and knowledge you have. Take time to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Find out from family members, friends, and coworkers what you’re good/great at.
    2. Identify your target audience: Think about who you want to serve; clearly define them, by doing this you’ll be able to better understand them and their problems, and how best you can help solve them.
    3. Find a need and fill it: Everyone that’s alive has problems, and for their problems they need a solution, and many are willing to pay for the solution. You just need to find a problem within your niche that you can solve based on your skill level, experience, talents, or knowledge and solve it.

    Once you’ve chosen your niche, research it.

    Conduct Market And Competitor Research

    Man assessing board with research information

    Now that you have figured out your niche, the next step is to gather information about your niche and the competition.

    Here’s a list of things you need to find out:

    1. How big is the niche?: If it’s too big, it may be hard to target and too full of competition, whereas if it’s too small, it may be hard to get targeted traffic for it to be profitable.
    2. How competitive is the niche?: If it has too many competitors, it may be hard to make money in the niche. If it’s too small then maybe there is no money to be made in the niche.
    3. How profitable is the niche?: You need to find a niche that has an audience that is willing to pay for the products or services that you plan to sell.
    4. If anyone is already selling products related to your niche, and what kind of products they’re selling?
    5. If there’s a potential for back end products?
    6. Are there affiliate products to promote in your niche?
    7. Do you have enough interest in the niche?
    8. Do you know enough about the niche?
    9. Is it an evergreen niche, will it be around for a long time?
    10. Is it becoming more popular or is it on the decline?

    As a new online business, you should develop the habit of research. Once you have collected all the data, your next step is to determine your unique selling point (USP).

    Determine Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

    Internet marketing is rapidly growing, some niches are more competitive than others, so whatever niche you’re going into you’ll have to prove yourself as someone who is trustworthy, reliable, and an expert.

    You need to decide how you’re going to stand out from the crowd; what makes your website services or products different or better than others?; why should customers choose you and not another?

    Your USP should be appealing, value-packed, and most importantly problem-solving.

    Now time to decide on a business model.

    Decide On A Business Model

    There is no hard rule that says only one method can be or should be used, so you can use a combination of one or more ways to make money from your online business.

    From what I’ve seen, all internet marketers use a combination of methods.

    Some individuals find it easier to do affiliate products and just promote for other people. While others prefer to create courses, eBooks, and provide services.

    Other individuals would rather have an e-commerce store so they can sell physical products.

    The method or methods you choose should be ones that best suit your skills, talents, and knowledge. Most importantly, they must solve the customer’s problem and make them happy.

    Now time to build a website (the cost is between $30-$100). So, what’s a website?

    What Is A Website?

    A website is a collection of one or more pages containing data that you can access online via web servers such as your hosting. It is different from a web page because it consists of a number of different pages.

    A website is not necessarily a business, it is only a business if you can monetize it or use it to get customers to a business, whether that business is online or offline.

    Creating a website is not hard, you don’t have to be a techy person to create one. You can start a website for free, however, there are limitations.

    Marketing Methods

    The final step in running an online business is actually the hardest, promoting. With your website up and everything for your business in place, it’s time to spread the word about it and drive traffic to it.

    While this step takes a lot of continuous work, there are numerous ways in which you can market your online business, some ways are certainly easier than others, but you just need to find one or two that you can master and work hard at it.

    Some ways of promoting your online business are:

    1. Social media marketing: using platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. to share your website content.
    2. Video marketing: creating valuable videos around your niche consistently and posting on YouTube.
    3. Content marketing/ blogging: creating articles/ post regularly on topics about your niche.
    4. Email marketing: this is when you give something free in exchange for an email address and then later send them updates or promotional emails.
    5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): using unpaid methods to appear in search results; for example, optimizing an article in a way that is easy to read and understand by both humans and search engine bots.
    6. Building backlinks: getting sites with high authority and domain rank to link to your site.
    7. SEM or PPC (Search Engine Marketing or Pay Per Click): paying search engines to promote your business.
    8. Influencer Marketing: paying or asking influencers to promote your business

    Remember, some ways are better, easier, and quicker than others, the key is to find the one that works best for you and keep working on it daily.

    Starting an online business is not going to make you rich overnight, so you will have to learn how to manage and grow your business if you want it to succeed.

    It’s not going to be easy, and I know you don’t want to hear this, but I have to say it anyway,

    Hard fact #3: You are going to fail.

    I’m sorry, but it’s true. And it’s ok to fail, everyone has failed, just fail early, fail hard, and as fast as you can.

    This failure allows you to learn, grow and improve. As I like to say “success is an improved version of failure”.

    Embrace failure, the faster you fail, the quicker you will learn how to grow a successful business.

    Honestly, I’ve failed and given up more times than I care to admit.

    But, my burning passion for online marketing coupled with my desire to learn how to do it right kept me coming back.

    Is An Online Business For You?

    Hard fact #4: An online business is not for everyone.

    Despite the noise in the market, not everyone can withstand the ups and downs and endure until the end.

    Just like an offline business, it comes with risks and has the potential to fail. It has its ups and downs and requires you to do a lot of research, learning, and hard work, at least in the beginning.

    Use the questions below to help you determine if an online business is right for you.

    1. Am I afraid to start an online business? We all have some form of fear and oftentimes our fears can hinder us from achieving our goals. Those fears at times are our greatest enemies. If that’s you, then you need to get over your fears and take a leap of faith, because if you can’t, then this business is not for you.
    2. Do I want to run my own business? Do you really want to quit working for your boss, quit the 9-5 or whatever hours you work? Ask yourself this question, do I want it bad enough to put some work into it and stick with it when the going gets tough?
    3. Am I willing to be a marketer? Because an online business requires some form of selling, either directly or indirectly.
    4. Do I like computers, the internet or technology? If you don’t, then this business isn’t right for you. An online business requires basic computer knowledge.
    5. Am I willing to learn? Learn about my niche, marketing, computer, technology and all that comes with it.

    The Wrap On How To Set Up An Online Business

    Creating a business online is a great idea. There are simple ways to start a business, whether you’re looking to start small online businesses or large corporations.

    Having a business plan is important if you want to start and run a lucrative business. Once you follow your plan, consistently work on your business, and satisfy your customers, you will have a profitable and successful online business.

    Thanks for spending a few minutes with me, let me know your thoughts in the comment below, and good luck on your journey.

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